Thursday, March 1, 2018

things no longer there

I walk into the mall of my youth midday, and the main door slam-echoes shut behind me. There is no one in sight. I was warned about this emptiness. A ghost town with bare minimum business. That day it was me, 3 open stores, and a few speed walkers.

There is something slightly scary about being in a nearly empty mall. To walk an entire wing of it alone. I peered in the empty stores, tried to remember where things were in my youth. Some storefronts changed hands enough for me to be unfamiliar, so I reached back into experience. The candy store. The book store I worked at(my coworker was a peculiar violinist with claw-clipped low ponytail). And where is she now, twenty years later? There is the store where my mom took me shopping. I would try to help her pick outfits, or hide in the jeans rack, adamant that when my adult time arrived I'd shop there too. I fell quietly for my best friend in the empty shell that used to be a music store. CDs in heavy plastic cases. Right wall covered in cassingles. My kidhood in one building.

For smaller towns, the mall was a notorious refuge. Really, where do you have to go or need to be as a teenager outside the hours of school and part-time job? You find parking lots and back roads. You cut the engine by cornfields and walk the neighborhood. You go to the mall and maybe buy something. You flicker back and forth between barely formed flirtation and expert level boredom. The hours were perfect--closing right up against your curfew.

Age and time tilted things back to the strip of individual shops, no roof. Everything separate and seemingly more inconvenient again, deconstructed. I guess the mall fell out of style. I reminisce about the event of getting dressed up to sit/walk around the mall and do absolutely nothing. Do youth still do that? I'm old enough to no longer know.

I let the melancholy bubble up. All this time a mall stood still, filled and emptied, eaten away. Empty feels like more than nothing--if they tore it down maybe I wouldn't feel as much. Field or overgrown parking lot seems better digested than what feels like an abandonment. I was walking through an outline. You would think the empty pushes needle closer to fictitious, but the absence makes you certain--these things were here. This happened. This was.

No comments:

Post a Comment